Man pleads not guilty to hacking celebrity e-mails

LOS ANGELES Wed Nov 2, 2011 5:35pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Florida man pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to hacking into e-mail accounts to access and distribute nude photos and other personal information of numerous celebrities including actress Scarlett Johansson.

Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Florida was arrested on October 12 after an 11-month investigation dubbed "Operation Hackerazzi" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Chaney was charged with 26 counts of cyber-related crimes for hacking into e-mails of "The Avengers" star Johansson, along with actress Mila Kunis ("Black Swan") and singer Christina Aguilera. Other victims were identified only by their initials, which included B.P. and J.A., among them.

The photos of 26-year-old Johansson showed her topless and in a towel with an exposed backside. She revealed in a Vanity Fair magazine interview they were taken for her now ex-husband, actor Ryan Reynolds, when they were still married.

Leaked photos of Kunis showed her in a tub filled with bubbles, showing only her face.

The day after he was arrested, Chaney told a Jacksonville, Florida TV station that he became addicted to prying into the affairs of celebrities and apologized.

"I was almost relieved months ago when they (the FBI) came and took my computer ... because I didn't know how to stop, he told the TV station.

On Tuesday, a Los Angeles judge set a trial date of December 27 and freed Chaney on a $110,000 bond. He will be allowed to return home, but must wear a court monitoring device.

If convicted of all the crimes, Chaney faces up to 121 years in jail.

(Editing by Jill Serjeant)

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